Psychological factors related to prehospital delay during acute myocardial infarction

Lori W. Kenyon*, Mark W. Ketterer, Mihai Gheorghiade, Sidney Goldstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Background. Prior studies have had difficulty identifying factors that significantly explain patients' delay in responding to symptoms of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Methods and Results. We therefore examined factors affecting the time between symptom onset and hospital arrival for 103 AMI patients admitted to a Detroit metropolitan hospital between October 1989 and January 1990. Variables evaluated included demographic and medical history factors, psychological characteristics of somatic and emotional awareness, and type A behavior. The mean prehospital delay time was 9.0±10.8 hours (median, 5.0 hours; range, 0.25-62.0 hours). Delay time was not significantly associated with demographic or medical history categories or with type A behavior. Of study variables that can be identified prior to evolution of an AMI, somatic and emotional awareness were the only factors significantly predictive of delay time. Patients who were more capable of identifying inner experiences of emotions and/or bodily sensations sought treatment significantly earlier than patients with low emotional or somatic awareness (low emotional awareness median delay, 12.8 hours; high emotional awareness median delay, 3.8 hours; low somatic awareness median delay, 7 hours; high somatic awareness median delay, 4 hours). Conclusions. Variations in sensitivity to bodily sensations and emotions appear to play an important role in treatment seeking and thus potentially in treatment outcome for AMI patients. Assessment of these characteristics in patients with coronary risk factors could allow early identification of persons at risk of excessive delay in responding to symptoms of AMI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1969-1976
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1991


  • Alexithymia
  • Emotional awareness
  • Somatic awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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